New report from the Danish Accreditation Institution on "MOOCs - Quality and perspectives"

The Danish Accreditation Institution accredits programmes and institutions within the higher education area. Accreditation is used as a means to strengthen the quality assurance work at the institutional level.  In addition, The Danish Accreditation Institution gathers and disseminate information about quality assurance, nationally as well as internationally. The background for the report is an expectation that MOOCs will be a part of Higher Education in the future. Behind the report is a study of Danish and International Higher Education Institutions’ use and approaches to MOOCs. The main aim of this study has been to provide knowledge of the role of MOOCs in Higher Education , and how such courses can be part of formalised educational programmes.The main focus is how MOOCs can support the quality of on-campus programmes and main quality assurance aspects  on MOOCs.

The report has a focus on the perspective of quality in MOOCs and how MOOCs can support and enhance traditional education. The report presents a study that provides an overview of what MOOCs are, primarily to gain insight into the most important elements with regard to the quality of MOOCs.

As MOOCS are increasingly being incorporated in and migrated to classic courses at educational institutions, there is a need for understanding how the quality of MOOC educational materials, experience, merits and didactic data can be assessed and ensured. In contrast to the provision of Danish higher education campus courses, which are more often than not, subject to some form of national regulation, supervision or demands for quality assurance, MOOCs are so far, not linked to these control bodies. This means that it is up to each educational institution to take charge of quality assurance of MOOCs. Examination forms in connection with MOOCs vary and depend upon factors such as the type of MOOCs and their technological platform. Participants do not necessarily have the right to go to the exam or be awarded a certificate, but can, in many cases, pay for it. Types of certification also vary widely, and there are new types of online certificates emerging.

From the study, the report highlights five key perspectives on quality related to MOOCs:

1. The pedagogical development of MOOCs
The common "MOOC" term does not imply that all MOOCs employ the same pedagogical approaches. Using learning analytics in MOOCs offers new opportunities for obtaining new knowledge about education and learning.

2. Credibility of examination and certification
Educational institutions and employers need to have trust in badges and certificates earned from MOOCs before they can be accepted as a credible certification in line with traditional diplomas. The many types of certificates make it difficult to evaluate the value of each.

3. Merit from educational institutions and the labour market
Unlike the United States, Europe has a common system for the recognition of higher education, to ensure a transparent recognition process. However, MOOCs challenge us to develop new forms of recognition of MOOCs.

4. Dropouts
Although MOOCs have a very large dropout rate, this should not necessarily be seen as an indicator of quality challenges, in the same way that we tend to do view things on campus courses. Instead, we should focus on the different learning paths and outcomes that vary among MOOC participants.

5. Transparency within academic level
It is very difficult to assess the academic quality of MOOCs. Often it is the educational institution's foremost scientists and educators, who are in charge of MOOC courses, thus ensuring quality of content as well as creating a celebrity endorser effect on branding. The study shows that when talking about confidence in the quality of MOOCs, one often resorts to traditional patterns of trust, for example trusting MOOCs from world's leading universities.

Don't kill the MOOC through regulations
There are clear indications that the freedom and innovation that characterise MOOCs must not be killed by external requirements and regulation. The report supports the contention that MOOCs should not be subject to the same requirements for external quality assurance as campus education. At the same time, however, the report also brings forth the argument that quality assurance of MOOCs is a prerequisite, if MOOCs must be accepted as a part of campus education.

Go to the report

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